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Has anyone else tried installing Windows 7 on thin-client hardware? I'd be very interested to hear about other people's experiences and what sort of hardware tweaks they had to do to get it to work. (Yes, I realize this is completely unsupported.. half the fun of playing with machines and beta/RC versions is trying out unsupported scenarios. :) )

I managed to get Windows 7 installed on a modified Wyse 9450 Thin-Client and while the performance isn't great, it is usable, particularly as an RDP workstation. Before installing 7, I added another 256Mb of ram (512 total), a 60G laptop hard-drive and a PCI videocard to the 9450 (this was in order to increase the supported screen resolution).

I basically did this in order to see whether or not it was possible to get 7 installed on such minimal hardware, and see what the performance would be. For a 550Mhz processor, I was reasonably impressed. I've been using the machine for RDP for the last couple of days and it actually seems slightly snappier than the default Windows XP embedded install (although this is more likely the result of the extra hardware). I'll be running some more tests later on as I'm curious to see particularl whether the streaming video performance will improve.

I'd love to hear about anyone's experiences getting 7 to work on extremely low-powered hardware. Particularly any sort of tweaks that you've discovered in order to increase performance..

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Michael Hampton Aug 7 '13 at 9:58

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
I like this question, and am intrested in the answers. I run XP on much less than people think it can be run on because they are all essentially thin-clients. We have P2's who run XP in a lockdown mode just fine. –  Matt Jun 23 '09 at 16:03
    
Microsoft also has a special edition of Windows Embedded called Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs which requires even less resources than XP while still being maintainable as domain members with group policy, host firewall and so on... –  Oskar Duveborn Mar 15 '10 at 13:57
    
How is this is thin client when you ahve installed windows 7? this should be titled "how to install windows 7 on sub-par hardware" –  Jim B Mar 15 '10 at 16:24
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I'd say this is really a SuperUser sort of topic, since it's hobby usage of a desktop OS. No offense :) Someone can move it if they agree with me. –  Bill Weiss Mar 15 '10 at 16:37
    
@Bill/Others Move it if you want. I can't recall specifically whether SuperUser existed at the time of this post. –  Peter Bernier Mar 21 '10 at 17:00

6 Answers 6

I just installed Windows 7 on an HP GT7725. When it works, it works like a dream, but occasionally it will just cut the power. I think I may be pushing the limits on that front. I planned on using it as an HTPC. It's ridiculously silent, and it has dual core processing for video encoding. The graphics are also really good. It took some hacking (with a saw), but I got everything to fit, and it works really well. I'm just waiting for the TV tuner; if that works, then I will have built myself a dream machine.

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I just installed Windows 7 Ultimate on and HP T5730 thin client with an 80G DoM. Works Great! Had to compress the drive though after a few program installs. There are ways to strip the OS down using vware. Windows also has Windows 2010 embedded beta out for testing good until Aug. 15, 2010.

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I have to wonder why on earth anyone world want a thin client with Windows 7. I could see running Windows 7 on a fat client (server) and using RDP from the thin client to connect to it. Based on the "upgrades you did to the "thin client" you can no longer call it or manage it as such. The idea of the thin client is that is a bascily a dumb box that has a stripped down hardened OS that is just enough to connect to remote sessions Xserver, RDP, Xen, or just web sessions. They are very easy to manage because they don't have much that can go worng with them. Also the thin OS (there are many flavors) generally don't have to be patched for security often. When they need to be patched they all have tools to push the patches to the ROM of the thin client. What you have done is it build a low power PC it is NO LONGER THIN so stop saying it is. You have just managed to creat a stupid 1 Kview question. I have gotten windows 7 to run on an Atom netbook that is basicly what you have done here nothing more.

Sorry for being a bit of a rant but misleading titles for views piss me off.

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This was posted during the Windows 7 Beta period. (ie, "Beta".. as in try it out, break stuff, report issues..) It was more just to see whether Win7 would run on an extremely low-powered machine and still be usable as a terminal services/rdp front-end (which I'm assuming would be a valid business scenario). –  Peter Bernier Mar 21 '10 at 16:57

I have no personal experience of these thin clients, but I would suggest that the spec you mention is more than good enough for use as remote desktop based terminals.

You are likely to find the server providing the remote desktop service and (if the clients are not on the same local network as the server(s)) bandwidth will be your bottlenecks, not the thin clients. The streaming video you mention may be a problem as the RDP client probably won't use much by way of the 2D video acceleration that would be available to a local media application, but if that works OK under XP Embedded I can't imagine it'll work any worse under Windows 7 (and may be better if they have improved video support in later versions of the protocol supported by the new client in Windows 7).

If you are using the machines essentially as dumb-terminals for the RDP server(s) though, why do you need to upgrade the OS? If XP Embedded does the job then I'd leave it be.

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Yes, I'm using the thin-clients primarily as dumb-terminals for RDP. The reason I wanted to start playing with 7 in this scenario (other than just to see if it could be done) was to be able to use the new enhancements in RDP 6 (specifically dual monitor support and bandwidth tweaks). –  Peter Bernier Jun 23 '09 at 18:40
    
It supports multiple monitors now? I might have to play with that... You might be able to use RDPv6 already. I don't know about Embedded, but my XP Pro installs picked up version 6 of the client (it currently identifies itself as 6.0.6001) when SP3 went on and it seems to be possible pre SP3: msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb417252(WinEmbedded.5).aspx –  David Spillett Jun 23 '09 at 19:02

Just found this software. A Windows 7 virtualization for thin client

http://www.aikotech.com/thinserver.htm

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The reason someone would want to do this is because Microsoft licensing around VDI is still skewed toward device licensing. If you have Win7 licenses with SA, it's cheaper to install it on your thin clients in a locked down mode, using it only to connect to your image. That way you don't have to pay their VDA tax (which is just VECD renamed).

More and more I find reasons to get out of the Microsoft universe entirely. It takes a long time to kill a 500lb gorilla, but they seem to be doing a good job themselves.

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